Updated: Jul 6, 2022
What is Hatha Yoga? The name Hatha Yoga seems to be used as both an umbrella term for a yoga practice where there’s a focus on the breath in asanas (postures/poses) AND a style of yoga. Ashtanga, Yin, Iyengar, Hot, Flow and other styles will be under that umbrella which can make it confusing. When used on a yoga studio timetable the Hatha class will most likely be
-a multi-level style suitable for both beginners and experienced yogis. There will be a focus on alignment in each pose, with poses held for a few breath rounds. It’s a grounding style that gently builds strength, resilience and gives students time to sink into the pose, absorbing its many benefits
-Vinyasa or Flow Yoga might also be multi-level but it'll feel 'stronger' as you’ll move continuously from one pose to the other making it more dance-like, aerobic + free-flowing
FOR EXAMPLE - SUN SALUTATIONS
You might practice Sun Salutations in both a Hatha and a Vinyasa class. In the Vinyasa class you'd move through the Sun Salutations fluidly, quickly, perhaps completing two to three rounds. From Tadasana for example, you might breathe in, then breathe out and forward fold into Uttanasana, inhale to Ardha Uttananasana and exhale into the next pose...In a Hatha class each part of the salutation would be held for a few breaths before moving into the next pose, with a focus on form and technique
And as for the question – WHICH IS HARDER, VINYASA OR HATHA? I guess that depends on many factors including your personality type!
-Type ‘A’ personalities and the hypermobile might find Vinyasa easier than static Hatha poses - they could find the time spent in each pose frustrating, restricting and boring!
-Those who like structure, tradition, want to slow down physically, need to calm an overactive mind, have had injuries, experience mild pain + want to feel more grounded could find Vinyasa rushed + awkward if they tend to be uncoordinated
I hope that helps! This is just my opinion and interpretation, please Google for further ideas on the differences.
Thanks to TUMMEE for the use of this Yoga Sequence Builder below, showing one of the variations of Sun Salutations - for any yoga teachers out there, TUMMEE is a superb tool for building classes